The corporate regulator has commenced civil penalty proceedings against ANZ over allegations the bank breached its continuous disclosure obligations during a 2015 capital raising.
ASIC alleges that ANZ, which has already been charged with criminal cartel offences related to the raising, should have advised the market that the investment banks involved in the deal took up nearly a third of the shares in the placement.
“ANZ will defend these allegations,” the bank said on Friday in a statement to the ASX.
“ANZ is not aware of a precedent for a listed entity to disclose the take up of shares by underwriters in an equity placement.”
ASIC alleges ANZ should have told investors Deutsche Bank, Citigroup and JPMorgan took up approximately 25.5 million of the 80.8 million shares placed.
But ANZ chief risk officer Kevin Corbally denied any misconduct.
“ANZ’s disclosure in relation to the placement was in accordance with its ASX disclosure obligations as well as market practice,” Mr Corbally said.
ASIC said the proceedings are to be listed for a case management hearing in the Federal Court in Melbourne on a date yet to be determined.
The 2015 raising was in response to the major banks being required to hold more money in reserve against their mortgage lending.
But ANZ’s raising, which comprised the placement and a $500 million share purchase plan for ordinary shareholders, caught the market by surprise because then-chief executive Mike Smith had suggested it would not be necessary.
ANZ shares suffered their biggest one-day fall in nearly seven years on the announcement, and retail shareholders were angry at the preferential treatment given to institutional investors.
Criminal cartel charges were laid in June against ANZ, Deutsche and Citigroup – as well as executives from each institution – following an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.